The 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) dealt the baking industry a major blow by downplaying the importance of refined grains in the American diet. In lieu of refined grains, the DGAC recommended substituting carbohydrates high in fiber, such as whole grains.
The DGAC’s findings were published in a report that will be the basis of the U.S. government’s food, nutrition education and information programs. This bodes poorly for the baking industry because various sections of the report paint bakery foods in a less than positive light.
The most significant change from the existing Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends 6 to 11 servings of grains be eaten daily, is the de-emphasis of refined grains. “Since the Recommended Daily Allowance for carbohydrate is relatively easy to meet, and carbohydrates (sugars and starches) supply calories, it is important to choose food sources of carbohydrates carefully to maximize nutrient value per calorie,” the report stated.
According to the report, whole grains are an important food source of nutrient-rich carbohydrates. “Daily intake of three or more servings of whole grains per day is recommended, preferably by substituting whole grains for refined grains.” Whole grains can be substituted for refined grains on an ounce-for-ounce basis.
The DGAC pushes the consumption of whole grains over refined grains because whole grains are chock full of dietary fiber, “and the fiber content is greatly reduced when grains are refined,” the report stated. In addition, the DGAC said that fiber-rich whole grains help reduce the risk of an assortment of medical problems, including diabetes and coronary heart disease.
However, whole grains do not contain folate, a compound that the DGAC says consumers ingest too little of. A major source of folate is refined grains that are enriched and fortified with folic acid. The DGAC never clearly explains how consumers can increase their folate intake while also reducing their enriched and fortified refined grain intake.
This contradiction has confounded many in the food manufacturing industry, including the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA). “While it is necessary to consume three servings of whole grains each day, the Committee’s report ignores the importance of enriched grains as good sources of micronutrients such as folic acid and iron, which the Committee identifies in the report as critical for the health of children and women of childbearing age,” Mark Nelson, GMA’s vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said.
Besides the de-emphasis of enriched grains, bakery foods also took a public relations hit in the section of the report dealing with fats. According to the report, the relationship between trans-fatty acid intake and the risk of coronary heart disease is “direct and progressive.” As a result, the DGAC recommends consumers limit their trans-fatty acid intake to about 1% of energy intake.
In a chart describing the major food sources of trans fats for U.S. adults, bakery foods took the number one position with “cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, bread, etc.” accounting for 40% of trans fat supplied by food.